Reading In Memoriam by Timothy Peltason

By Timothy Peltason

By making his argument approximately In Memoriam a continual argument for it, Timothy Peltason brings to mild a much broader appreciation of its greatness and of its valuable position within the heritage of recent poetry.

Originally released in 1986.

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Sample text

The first line belongs clearly to the frenzy of the storm and seems to affirm its continued sovereignty, but in the second the sunbeam asserts itself unexpectedly and alters the scene. Although it "strikes," still a sudden and violent action, the sunbeam seems for a moment to counter the glowering storm and to irradiate the world just at the moment of impending darkness. And as soon as the sunbeam has struck, the poem changes direction, and the poet's imagination emerges in response to the stormy scene.

After this, section X X begins with reference to "The lesser griefs that may be said," making the point clearly that speech is inimical to deep feeling. The climax of this discussion, as of so much else in In Memoriam, occurs in section XCV, where "Matter-moulded forms of speech" are indicted for their failure to capture transcend­ ent experience. The poet has undergone a revolution of feeling, but language cannot reach either the heights or the depths. But section V also begins, more subtly, a discussion of linguistic adequacy.

And his celebrated fail­ ures of faith are challenges to that wholeness, appearing in what may be regarded as rebellions of the part from the whole. The INTRODUCTION unique self and the unique moment rise up and refuse their mem­ bership in the redemptive systems of community and of history, and they do so in the space of memorable individual lyrics that refuse to cooperate toward the end of the Epilogue, that refuse to be read as preparations for "the one far-off divine event" to which the cre­ ation and the poem both move.

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